WHOLE 30 WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JAN. 20

Another week of Whole 30 down, and I'm feeling fantastic physically and clearer mentally, too! Each time I've done this I feel amazing, but of course, life happens and all the foods I'm not eating now creep back in. A Whole 30 lifestyle isn't practical to maintain full-time, but I always have intentions of keeping up the habits I form over these 30 days. If I can just remember how great I've been feeling after these 30 days are up, I think I would be more likely to keep it up. But, let's be real, chocolate WILL be coming back into my life in 10  days! 

Keeping it short today, as I need to get some more work done for my day job tonight. It's busy season!

whole-30-weekly-menu

Sunday: Chicken Fried "Rice" (cauliflower rice instead of brown rice) | Similar Recipe (Not Whole 30)
Monday: Turkey sausage + veggie sheet pan dinner
Tuesday: My family had pizza, I had Chipotle on the go.
Wednesday: Pork chops, roasted broccoli + pan-fried potatoes
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Stuffed pepper soup (I don't use the crock pot for mine)
Saturday: Out as a family

Breakfast: Mon-Wed I had 2 hard boiled eggs and a turkey burger with this awesome tomatillo and avocado salsa I found at Aldi. Thursday I had leftover pork chop, broccoli + potatoes. Today I'm home so I'll have fried eggs and a turkey burger with salsa.

Lunch: Leftovers all week! Double high five emoji for planning meals that yield leftovers. 

Snacks: spicy olives from Trader Joe's, fruit, nuts, Lara Bars, plantain chips

Have a great weekend! 

What was your favorite recipe from this week?

BREWING YOUR OWN KOMBUCHA, PART 1.

You've probably heard of kombucha recently, or maybe have seen it in the store. Even Target is carrying it now. It's all the rage these days because it tastes good and has some pretty great health benefits, such as providing healthy bacteria for your gut (aka probiotics), helps improve digestion, detoxes the liver and can boost energy. 

I randomly picked up a bottle of GTs kombucha at Byerly's one day and it was love at first taste. But, it's expensive! At nearly $4 a bottle, it's not something I can afford on a regular basis. So when a friend was hosting a kombucha class at her store early last year, I jumped at the chance to get started on my own. 

The Instagram posts about my homemade kombucha have continuously been my most commented on and engaged with, so it's high time I write a post about it. Let me tell you about this glorious nectar! 

I'm no scientist, so here is my simple brain's explanation of what kombucha is. Essentially, kombucha is brewed green or black tea (or a combo of both), with sugar added to it, that is fermented over time. But, without a very important piece of the puzzle, the SCOBY, it's just sweet tea. A what?

This is a scoby. Pretty appetizing. 

This is a scoby. Pretty appetizing. 

A scoby is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Sounds appealing, right? In the simplest terms, the scoby eats the sugar with which you sweetened your brewed tea, resulting in kombucha, or fermented tea. 

So, sweet tea + scoby + kombucha tea + time = kombucha 

The hardest part of making your own kombucha, (I say hard but it's not at all) is getting a scoby. You either have to grow your own, buy one online, or get one from a friend. I thankfully got one at the class I took, and have grown more scobys over time, since a new one forms every time you brew kombucha. I've heard Kombucha Kamp is a reputable source for buying a scoby online, but have not tried it myself. 

The second hardest part is waiting for your kombucha to ferment once you get started. It can take a few weeks for the first batch to be ready, and if you keep your house cooler, it can take even longer. 

Once you have brewed your tea and let it ferment with the scoby, you get to add the fun flavors! You could totally drink it straight from the tap at that point, but we like to flavor ours, which adds another 5 days to the process. So far, one of our favorites has been blackberry ginger, but mixed berry and apple are great, too. You can get really creative with the flavors if you want to.

diy-kombucha

Here are the supplies you need to make kombucha:

  • Black or green tea bags (or a combo of both)
  • Sugar
  • Filtered water
  • Scoby
  • Glass jar (a 32 oz mason jar works great if you're doing batch brewing) 
  • 6" x 6" square of cotton fabric (this is to cover the mason jar during fermentation
  • Rubber band/hair tie (to keep the fabric square on) 

I'll be back soon for part two, where I'll walk through the process of making kombucha, batch vs continuous brewing and second fermentation (flavoring). 

What questions do you have about brewing your own kombucha? Leave them here or comment on Instagram!

WHOLE 30 WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JAN. 13

Week 2 of Whole 30 is almost over and I'm feeling great! I feel less bloated, energetic, more focused and have been sleeping really well (which may have something to do with removing my phone from my room at night, too). This round has been going surprisingly easy and pretty quickly, so let's hope that continues for the second half. If you're doing Whole 30 this month too, share the best recipe you made this week in the comments! I'm always looking for some new ideas during Whole 30s!

whole-30-weekly-meal-plan

Sunday: Tex Mex Casserole  
Monday: Spaghetti Squash two ways - half with Whole 30 pesto and half with homemade pasta sauce- plus meatballs
Tuesday: I went to Whole Foods for the salad/hot bar since it was webinar night, and my husband and kids had Little Caesars (#imissyoupizza)
Wednesday: Homemade pizza (lucky family!) I did 2 portabella mushroom caps - one with pasta sauce and one with Whole 30 pesto- with pizza toppings in them to make it Whole 30. 
Thursday: Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (Obviously skipped the sugar to make it Whole 30 approved.)
Friday: Date night with my boo! 
Saturday: Family dinner at my dad's.

I thought I'd also share what I've been eating for breakfasts and lunches on occasion, especially on Whole 30 since I can't eat some of my go-to foods right now.

This week for breakfast at work I've eaten leftover Tex Mex Casserole from dinner on Sunday, or two hard boiled eggs with a Trader Joe's chicken burger with pesto on top, and today I'll have leftover soup from last night. Lunches have been more leftovers this week. Leftovers are key for me to make Whole 30 work on a budget! 

What was your favorite recipe from this week?

MY TOP 15 COSTCO PICKS.

What's not to love about Costco?

They have yummy samples, an awesome snack bar, and oh yeah, great deals on a ton of great products. We make a trip to Costco 1-2 times a month and spend about $200-$250 between those trips. We haven't even taken advantage of all of the things Costco offers, but I'm still a huge fan of the food and household items on their own and find the membership completely worth the cost (and we earn that back, plus more, in rebate checks so we don't really even pay for the membership in the end). 

Today I want to share some of my favorite items from Costco, but there is just so much! I buy clothes from Costco.com for myself, food (obviously), pillows, household items and have even gotten new tires for my car. 

So, here are some of my favorite items! 

1. Cage free eggs (pack of 24)
2. Bai juice / Obviously. 
3. Kirkland Whole wheat bread / We put this in the freezer and 2 loaves lasts us 3-4 months. (Not pictured)
4. Super extra large peanuts / These make THE BEST peanut butter!
5. Boneless skinless chicken breasts / $2.99 a pound for 6 packs of 2. (Not pictured)
6. Holy Land hummus / Love this local hummus! (Not pictured)
7. Kirkland coconut oil / The cure-all! 
8. Chocolate covered acai berries / A favorite nighttime snack. 
9. Minced garlic / We use this every day, such a great price. ($4.49 ish) (Not pictured)
10. Organic black beans (case of 8) / Still cheaper than non-organic individual cans.
11. Canned tomatoes /The best for homemade sauce.
12. Tortilla chips / This beast is $3.99!
13. Kirkland grain free dog food / Vet approved and so much cheaper than other grain-free brands! (Not pictured)
14. Kirkland organic salsa / I freaking love this salsa!
15. Carter's PJs for kids / Fleece footy jammies are usually $7.49! 

Tell me, what are your favorite Costco/Sam's Club picks? 

9 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR MORNING A LITTLE SMOOTHER.

Man, is there any time more hectic in the day than getting yourself and your kids out the door on time? Between waking up around 6:00..I mean 6:10... Ok, fine 6:20ish... and leaving the house around 7:45, a lot happens, and even though my husband helps get our older daughter ready, there's always something-- toddler tantrum, outfit rejection, or last minute poopy diaper-- that throws us off and sets us back. 

Especially when I have an 8:00 am meeting, I need to be ready to roll so we can get out the door on time and with minimal stress. Here are 9 things you can do to prepare for the morning.

tips-for-a-smoother-morning
  • Pack lunches the night before. I eat breakfast and lunch at work, so I get these things all packed and stacked in the fridge the night before, ready to go for the next day. This is even easier if you've prepped food ahead of time and utilize leftovers! 
  • Lay out the kids' clothes (or yours) ahead of time. My toddler won't let me pick out her clothes, but if your kid lets you, do it the night before to save some time in the morning. I really need to work on this for myself because I usually change my outfit a few times every morning, which ultimately makes us run late! 
  • Shower at night. If you can swing a shower at night, you might be able to sneak a few more zzzs, but still get up a few minutes earlier than normal and not be so rushed. 
  • Program your coffee. If you have a programmable coffee maker, use it! Save yourself 2 minutes in the morning and have a nice, fresh cup of joe waiting for you.
  • Pack your bags. Get your work bag, the diaper bag, laptop, workout bag, etc. all ready the night before and set them by the door so all you have to do is grab them on the way out.
  • Snack break. If your kids eat breakfast at daycare like mine, but are hungry when they wake up, plan ahead and set it out the night before. 
  • Tag team. Obviously, if your partner is home in the morning, make them help! Once our second baby came around, we worked it out that my husband would get our oldest dressed, while I tended to the baby (since I was still nursing). Then I get dressed while he gets the girls in their shoes, coats, etc.
  • Have a routine. Having a consistent routine in the morning helps everyone know what's coming next and limits the surprises. Kids especially thrive on routine, and even my 16-month old knows when it's time to get her shoes on, which makes it easier to get things done. 
  • Put down the phone. With most of us using our phones as alarms, it's easy to start scrolling through social media, check emails, etc. first thing in the morning. Once I start doing that, I usually end up wasting 10-15 minutes and have to rush through the rest of my routine. 

And hey, if you plan ahead but you're still running out of the house like a hot mess? Cut your losses, and treat yourself with your favorite coffee drink and pastry from the coffee shop. You deserve it. 

What are your tips for making your mornings run a little smoother? 

WHOLE 30 WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JAN. 6

Hello, hello! Happy Friday! I'm still thrown off on my week since we had Monday off and I'm off today. I'm on my third short week in a row, so next week is going to be reaaaaal rough when I have to work 5 full days. 

WHOLE 30
At the last minute, I decided to do another round of Whole 30 this month. I had sort of been thinking about it in my head, but hadn't fully committed until a friend told me she was doing it too. Last Saturday, we had donuts for breakfast (a treat we get about once a month) and I made a huge lasagna, Caesar salad and garlic bread for dinner as my "last supper." I know that's probably not the most healthy way to go into a Whole 30, but I figured I'll clean it all out of my system over the next month. :) So for the next month, all of our weekly meal plans will be Whole 30 approved dinners. If you're considering doing the program yourself, hopefully this will give you an idea of what types of delicious meals you can make! Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the program, too! 

I also joined a gym! This is the first time I've been a member somewhere since 2013. Now that I'm done having kids and done nursing, I'm ready to start being more active. I'm not trying to lose weight, but do want to tone up since I've lost some muscle over the past few years of being less active, and overall, just want to be strong and healthy. 

FREE WEBINAR SERIES!
Lastly, before I get to our weekly menu, if you haven't seen my social media posts, my sister and I are hosting weekly webinars this month all about eating real food, meal planning and how food impacts your fitness goals. We had our first one on Tuesday, and although we had some technical difficulties, we were able to record it. If interested in hearing the first one, send me an email for the link! Learn more about upcoming events here.

weekly-whole-30-meal-plan

Sunday: Burgers + Fries (Whole 30 style: no bun, no cheese. I love to top mine with mustard, tomatoes and avocado)
Monday: Stuffed Pepper Soup (Whole 30: no rice. I also used Italian Sausage instead of beef)
Tuesday: I was on the go, so I threw together lettuce cups with turkey, peppers and Trader Joe's Cilantro Dip, plus a hard boiled egg. Dinners don't need to be fancy! 
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes + Home Fries + Salad (Whole30: I piled the meat on top of my potatoes. Also, the website for this recipe is no longer up, but the entire recipe is listed on the pin!)
Thursday: Balsamic Chicken & Brussels Sprouts
Friday: Asian Noodle Bowls
Saturday: Pork Roast + Veggies

Have a great weekend! 

DAY IN THE LIFE 05: MEGAN RADOSEVICH

Today's Day in the Life post features a friend of my sister's, Megan. She's a working mom of two living in the Rochester, MN area who has the cutest style and a very envious Instagram account :)

Hi, I’m Megan Radosevich-- wife of 4 years to my Radarlove, mother of 2 (Lennon, 3 and Willow, 1), and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. I get high off of productivity and toddler belly giggles. I hate cooking, I regret not pursuing my rap career, and I’m seriously considering getting my planner insured. I also enjoy hand lettering, home décor, throwing parties, and DIY-ing and planning pretty much anything. Mostly, I am content.  

Megan-Radosevich

4:15 am: (Plus or minus a few rounds of snoozing the alarm) I wake up to have a bowl of banana nut oatmeal with raspberries and get my gym gear on.

5:00-6:00: Head to the gym with my sister. (I couldn’t do this without her to help motivate me and keep me accountable.)

Megan-Radosevich

6:00-6:30: The quickest half hour of “getting ready” that I can manage. If not for dry shampoo, lash extensions (a mommy treat for myself), and recent social acceptance of a top knot as professional work attire, this could not be possible.

6:30-7:00: Wake up Willow and Lennon, grab them some dry cereal and milk to snack on while they ease into their day, and sneak in my kisses before I rush out the door for my first 7 am client (coffee in hand, of course). I cannot praise my husband enough for taking the “morning shift” with the girls most days of the week because it can be fairly chaotic and time-consuming to get them out the door. We try to make it less chaotic by selecting outfits (and other necessary items) the night before; and our next project is to create a transitional space in our home with a shoe rack, cubbies, and a bench, so we can have a “go-to” space for most of these easy to lose items.

Megan-Radosevich

7:00-4:45 pm: My work days vary depending on the day, but on Tuesdays I see six to seven clients and I have one staff meeting. Some days I have a gap or two in my schedule to grab lunch, make phone calls, or run to the bank; and other days I see clients back to back all day.  One day per week, I work later, until about 7 pm or so. My job is flexible, in that I can schedule my clients when it is convenient for me. Therefore, I schedule one late night, so I’m able to have Friday fun days with my little ladies. I am also in the process of starting my own practice, which I temporarily devote one day to and will officially start in January 2017.

4:45-5:00: Pick up Lennon and Willow from daycare (the best in town :)).

5:00-5:45: Dinner. Ugh. I have to say that this is my biggest weakness and I’m not afraid to say it. No matter how good my intentions with meal planning and healthy eating, this continues to be a struggle for me. Luckily, my girls are patient as I stall them with dance parties in the kitchen, while I anxiously brainstorm anything I can whip up in a flash. On days when I have something good and homemade to put in the oven, I feel like superwoman. However, this is very rare and I applaud you mommas who are able to pull this off more often.

Megan-Radosevich

5:45-6:15: Bath time. This is (surprisingly) my most slowed and down to earth time of the day. I get to just BE with my babies, learn about their day, be silly with them, watch them interact together, and sit in awe at how much they’ve grown since even that morning. 

6:15-6:30: Read a book to the girls and tuck in Willow. Willow goes down at 6:30 pm and will sleep without a peep until 6:30 am. I’ve been blessed with two VERY good sleepers and I attribute their success to a good white noise machine, sleeping in their crib from the get-go, and early bedtimes. And if nothing else, Just. Plain. Luck. (Malisa here- I have to 100% agree with all of Megan's "good sleeping" tools above! And yes, a dash of luck is always helpful!)

6:30-7:30: This is Lennon’s one-on-one time aka “only child hour.” This time with her also varies, but is typically used for snuggles, coloring, play-doh, and she loves to help unload the dishwasher.

Megan-Radosevich

7:30-8:00: Lennon’s bedtime routine (brush teeth, read book, potty, prayers, kisses, etc.)  This time is getting more and more exhausting, as she executes at least two new excuses per night with intentions of postponing her awaited bedtime. “I need a new blankie.” “I want socks on.” “I need a drink of water.” “I’m scared.” “I don’t want my socks on.” “One more kiss.” “Leave hallway light on.” “I’m cold.” “I need my nails clipped.” Lol. Somehow, I still find myself smiling with a huge grin on my face, as I walk down the hallway from my final “goodnight” with her.  She will also sleep soundly until 6:30 am, if not longer.

8:00-9:30: Whew…I have SO many desires for this time of the evening. This 1.5 hours of adult time. I want to watch a favorite TV show with a glass of wine, take a bath, read a book, go straight to bed, or just chat with my husband. Once in a great while, I will do these things.  However, most nights I spend this time completing paperwork (dictations, treatment plans, and diagnostic assessments) and cleaning up the kitchen.

9:30: My head hits the pillow and I’m out. It takes me less than five minutes to fall asleep and before I know it, my G-Eazy and Fetty Wap beats are blazing in my ear to wake me the next morning.

Q&A:

1. What is the most challenging part of your day?
Hands down, dinner time.  Part of me really wants to work on this and I probably will make several attempts; and might even become successful. And another part of me believes that everyone has weaknesses and I’m temporarily okay with this one being mine. :)

2. Do you have any tips and tricks you use to manage and organize your schedule, home and personal activities?
Yes, it is my planner…aka, my bible. I have carried a planner daily since the 6th grade and it’s fair to say I’m obsessed with it. I currently own an Erin Condren planner and I love the vertical layout to accommodate listing my client appts. However, I did purchase a generic Target planner for 2017 because it follows my 2017 pursuit to become more financially savvy and free.  Balance is key with family, social, finances, physical health, career, faith, romance, fun, and self-care. Self-care is pertinent in my profession, as I spend my days completely focused and consumed with the details and struggles of others. My job requires me to sit in close proximity to pain and it is difficult not to take work home with you, emotionally and physically (with paperwork to complete).

Megan-Radosevich

3. How do you fit in "me-time?"
I make sure to include activities I enjoy on a daily basis such as a loaded coffee treat in the am, my favorite rap music while in route, exercise or a day off of exercise, a spontaneous lunch date with a friend, a bubble bath, or bingeing (and by bingeing I mean 2 episodes per night) a new favorite flick. The most important thing is “if it’s not working, change it.” When the schedule and routine gets redundant, get creative and change it up! Rearrange the order you usually do things; give your kids a bath outside in big tubs of soapy water in the summer; eat dinner on the floor; give your kids a guilt-free pajama day; make a mess and don’t clean it up; let your kids ride the vacuum cleaner; have laundry basket races; and when all else fails, turn up the music, dance, and sing! (At least while your kids still think you look cool doing it :)).

4. How do you stay present in your daily life?
Although routine is my jam, it fosters auto-pilot mode. In order to practice staying present, I try to leave our weekends open to be true human beings, instead of human doings.  Also, eliminating screen time helps (at least until the kiddos are tucked in).

5. What is your favorite part of your day?
I’m a morning person, so anything that has to do with morning and coffee. Especially, slow weekend mornings.

Thanks so much for sharing your day and your beautiful family with us, Megan!

Connect with Megan on Instagram! 

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW.

Writing a year in review post is so cliche, but it's also a fun way to look back on all you did in a year and really see how much you have in your life. When you look back at the year with a broader lens, you can see all of the great things you've accomplished and the amazing life you've built, even though in the day to day, it doesn't seem that spectacular. So, even though I've only had this blog for the last few months, I'm going to do a full year in review anyway, because 2016 has been a pretty good year for me (other than the whole election thing...)! 

JANUARY:

  • I finally realized/admitted that I was dealing with postpartum anxiety (read this article I wrote for more info), sought out a therapist. 

FEBRUARY:

  • I went to my first therapy appointment for postpartum anxiety
  • I traveled to Colorado Springs for work, and even though it was in the peak of my anxiety, I enjoyed my trip. It was a challenge to lug my pump with me, pump on a plane and in an airport bathroom (Ew), have the hotel freeze my milk and bring it all back home with me (all over a 48-hour time frame), but I made it! 
  • We started "swimming lessons" for the girls
  • My husband and I went on an overnight date night downtown
swimming-lessons

MARCH:

  • I took a class to learn how to make my own kombucha (and am still going strong with it!)
  • I turned 31, and took a day off to shop, get a pedicure and go to yoga
homemade-kombucha

APRIL:

  • I did my first vendor fair for The Brunette Bobbin
  • My uncle passed away, and our family made the trip up to the U.P. to celebrate his life
family-photo

MAY:

  • We planted our first garden and actually grew vegetables!
  • I did a pop-up shop for The Brunette Bobbin at Farmhouse Market in New Prague
  • I went to a Plant Nite event with my BFF 
plant-nite-minneapolis

JUNE:

  • We hosted our 6th annual summer party at our house
  • Baby Fi started walking at 10 months old

JULY:

  • We had family pictures taken; the first since our youngest was born (and she was 11 months old..oops)
  • We did our annual pontoon rental for a day with friends
becky-marie-photography

AUGUST:

  • I went to my first Saints game at the new stadium
  • My baby turned 1 year old
  • We celebrated my cousin's Bar Mitzvah
  • I went to my first Girl.Creative event
  • We visited the MN Landscape Arboretum for the first time
first-birthday-crown
mn-landscape-arboretum

SEPTEMBER:

  • My husband and I took the day off for our annual trip to the State Fair (we only go for the food!)
  • I went to a Paint & Pallet class with my mom and sister
  • We welcomed a new nephew into the family
  • My oldest turned 3 years old
  • I completed my second Whole30
paint-and-pallet-mn

OCTOBER:

  • I started this blog! 
  • I went to a book signing for Mommy Shorts
  • I finally got my alternate work week agreed upon and started having every other Friday off of work to spend with the girls
  • I met with my business mentors from SCORE for the first time
  • We visited a pumpkin farm 
  • I attended my first blogging conference (MN Blogger Conference)
mommy-shorts-book-signing
barten-family-farm

NOVEMBER:

  • I went to a Pinterest event in Minneapolis 
  • We celebrated 6 years of marriage
  • We hosted my husband's family's Thanksgiving at our house
  • I had another meeting with my SCORE mentors, and completed the start of a business plan
  • We visited the new upcoming exhibits at the Children's Museum as #PlayAdvocates
SCORE-Minneapolis

DECEMBER: 

  • We watched the Canadian Pacific Railroad come into town
  • I attended the Twin Cities Collective holiday event
  • We hosted my family's Christmas at our house
canadian-pacific-railroad

Whew! When I started this, I didn't think I'd have a ton to write about, but we really did do a lot, especially as a family. Now that our youngest is a toddler, we have a lot more freedom to explore and be active, so I'm looking forward to doing even more in 2017. 

Personally, I majorly slacked in the physical activity area, but did keep our meals relatively clean and healthy this year. I just joined the gym again, and am starting another Whole30 on January 1. My goal for 2017 is to be more active, so I can be a strong role model for my girls and be strong physically, too. 

I read, listened, observed and absorbed A TON of content on blogging and entrepreneurship in the last quarter of this year. I spent a lot of time writing, planning, and daydreaming, so 2017 will be the year to actually implement. Early in 2017, I'm launching a free 5-day email course and will officially be offering services. If I say it here. it has to happen, right?

I also met some really amazing and inspiring local bloggers and small business owners through various events in the Twin Cities over the past few months who have made me realize what's possible and also have encouraged me to just DO THE THINGS instead of letting fear get in the way. I'm really appreciative of the extremely talented and kind people that are in the blogging/small business industries locally. 

Now, on to 2017! I can't wait to see what it holds!